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When Country Goes Pop

It may be criticized by critics and genre-purists, but when country artists go pop they often hit gold (as in gold records). Some have been more successful than others, but as long as people have varied influences and backgrounds, it will continue to happen. For some reason, women have been more successful at it than the men. So here’s my list of artists who have straddled the lines between country and pop:

Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift
She’s had her foot in both genres from the beginning of her career. She has won MTV awards and country music awards too. Her latest CD “Red” is pure pop. Essential songs: “You Belong to Me,” “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “Teardrops on My Guitar.”

Shania Twain
When she hooked up with producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, she went from nobody to country pop diva. He brought his wall-of sound production skills that he used for Def Leppard and Foreigner and took her to the next level. Essential songs: “Still the One,” “Up,” and “Man! I Feel like a Woman!”

Faith Hill
Another pretty lady who can sing, she has had big hits on both the pop and country charts. Plus she’s married to country hunk Tim McGraw too. She’s done some acting too, but at heart she’s still a ‘Mississippi Girl.’ Essential songs: “This Kiss,” “Breathe” and “The Way You Love Me.”

Lady Antebellum
Their first CD had more of a country feel, but when they went more pop they got more popular and won a few Grammys too. This trio with their great vocal blend has had major success in the last few years. Essential songs: “Need You Now,” “Just a Kiss” and “Run to You.”

LeAnn Rimes
Dianne Warren is a great songwriter. She has written for tons of great female vocalists over the years. When LeAnn sang some of her songs for the movie “Coyote Ugly”, the result was a hit record and a sort of coming out for the ground-up more mature LeAnn. Essential songs: “Can’t Fight the Moonlight,” “How Do I Live” and “I Need You.”

Keith Urban
Described as country for people that don’t like county music, this wonder from down under is one of the new judges on “American Idol” this season. He’s obviously been influenced by a lot of rock musicians. Essential songs: “Making Memories of Us,” “Once in a Lifetime” and “You’ll Think of Me.”

Tim McGraw
More country than pop, he had had some success crossing over. He’s done duets with Def Leppard and Nelly, plus is married to Faith Hill. He’s also dabbled in acting. Essential songs: “Over and Over,” “Live Like We’re Dyin” and “Real Good Man.”

Kenny Rogers
Back in the 80’s, he had an incredible run of hit singles on both the country and pop charts. Plus one of his biggest hits was written by Lionel Richie. Essential songs: “Lady,” “The Gambler” and “Islands in the Stream.”

Dolly Parton
Sure she had humble beginnings, but Dolly has also made her mark in Hollywood too, with her outrageous clothes and wigs and self-deprecating humor. She dueted with Kenny Rogers on one of country-pop’s biggest hits (written by the Bee Gees by the way). Essentials songs: “9 to 5,” “Here You Come Again” and “I Will Always Love You.”

Tammy Wynette
Her left-field collaboration with the British electronica group The KLF “Justifed and Ancient” earns her a spot here. Nobody could have predicted the “Stand By Your Man” singer would have a hit with this strange, but entertaining song.

Rascal Flatts
Another county trio, this one made up of 3 guys. They have also been influenced by classic rock. Jay DeMarcus even produced an album for the band Chicago. Plus they have covered AC/DC and Bon Jovi in their concerts. Essential songs: “God Bless the Broken Road,” “What Hurts the Most” and “Life Is a Highway.”

Carrie Underwood
The biggest star to emerge from “American Idol,” she had found great success straddling the line between the 2 genres. She even famously performed with Aerosmith at the Grammys. Essentials songs: “Before He Cheats,” “Last Name” and “Jesus Take the Wheel.”

Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and  Rock the Kilt lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

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Terrific Trios Part 1

What’s better than a duo, why a trio of course! Here are some of the best trios that have dominated the music scene.

 

Bee GeesBee Gees
The Brothers Gibb (Robin, Maurice and Barry) had incredible success during the 70’s and 80’s with hits like “Staying Alive,” “To Love Somebody” and “How Deep is Your Love.” Sadly, Barry is the only one left, but their music will live on. Let’s hope they get the Mamma Mia treatment and have a musical made from their songs.

 

The Supremes
Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard (and later Cindy Birdsong) were the jewel of the Motown label during their heyday. Stylish, sophisticated and classy, these ladies sang some of the most memorable songs of the 60’s and 70’s. “Love Child,” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” were some of their biggest hits.

 

Dixie Chicks
Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire and Emily Robison only recorded 4 albums during their career together. They have won 13 Grammy Awards and have been on an extended hiatus since 2008. Let’s hope they get together to record some new music soon. I listened to their debut album again recently, and I really miss their vocal blend. “Goodbye Earl,” “Sin Wagon” and “Ready to Run” are all great songs.

 

Exposé
Fans of 80–90’s dance music remember this trio from Miami. The brainchild of producer Lewis Martineé, they recorded only 3 albums, before being let go from their label and breaking up. Ann Curless, Jeanette Jurado and Gioia Bruno were the ladies who sang such favorites as “Point of No Return,” “What You Don’t Know,” and “Seasons Change.” They are now back together and performing occasionally.

 

Rascal Flatts
Country pop trio Rascal Flatts (Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus, and Joe Don Rooney) have been one of the most successful country bands of the last decade on stage and the radio. Their hits include “Bless the Broken Road,” “Prayin’ for Daylight” and “What Hurts the Most.”

 

Lady Antebellum
Another country pop trio, but with a guy and girl trading leads. Hilary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood have come up with a winning combination. This has brought them legions of fans and few Grammys along the way. They have a new album coming out in 2013. “Love’s Looking Good on You,” “Need You Now” and “We Own the Night” are just a few of their hits.

 

Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
Lisa Velez, Alex “Spanador” Mosely and Mike Hughes formed this trio. Created and produced by Full Force, they were responsible for such club and dance hits as “I Wonder If I Take You Home,” “Head to Toe” and “Let the Beat Hit ‘Em.”

 

The Human League
The ground-breaking group from Sheffield, England wasn’t always a trio, but since 1987, they pretty much have been. Phil Oakey, Joanne Catherall, and Susan Ann Sulley are the group these days. I have seen them a couple of times in concert in recent years and they still put on a great live show.

 

Pointer Sisters
This real-life sister act (Ruth, June and Anita) conquered the world with their strong vocals and fun dance-pop songs. Sadly, June died of cancer in 2004. But songs like “I’m So Excited,” “Slow Hand” and “Neutron Dance” still sound great today.

 

More trios to come in Part 2 of this posting coming soon.

 

Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and  Rock the Kilt lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

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